Storing Lawn Machinery for Winter
A chill is in the air, your lawn seems to have stopped growing, and the leaves are falling. One more cut, clean up the edges, and get those last leaves off the lawn and you might think you are done for the year. Not quite. Before you store your gas powered lawn mower and other tools away in your unheated shed or garage for the winter, there is work to do. A little preparation work carried out during the late fall could save you much frustration and even money in the spring if your machinery fails to perform adequately or perhaps not at all.
Self-propelled lawn mowers
Fuel, can destabilize if it is left sitting. Use your tank of gas for that final mow and then let the mower run dry; it would be a good idea if you run the last few minutes on idle near to where you plan to store your machine to save some pushing. Alternatively, you can use a fuel stabilizer, following the product's directions.
Battery, disconnect the battery, wipe it clean with a clean dry cloth and use a wire brush and/or a terminal cleaner on the battery's terminals; treat the leads on the mower too, if necessary. Store the battery in a cool dry place, on a flat surface, preferably frost free, and well away from gas cans, water heaters, and furnaces. For longevity, charge the battery a couple of times during the winter.
Cleaning, you will need to clean your mower completely. Before commencing however, remove the spark plug lead wire and tape it up out of the way. Brush off debris with a wire and soft brush and/or use a hose; if there is stubborn debris on the blades, use a stick or similar implement to remove it, never use your hands; if you want to touch up paint chips to prevent rust, now is a good time to do it.
Servicing, once the machine is clean, it is a good idea to change the oil, oil filter and spark plug, and fuel filter too if necessary; also check the belts for wear and see that the blades are sharp enough for another season. The last task before storage is to consult your owner's manual and lubricate all parts of the mower where required.
Storing, you can now safely store your mower away in a dry, cool place, well away from gas cans, water heaters, and furnaces.
Not everyone is comfortable working with engines. If you aren't ready to tackle all of these jobs you may want to consider getting your mower to a professional shop to do some of them for you.
Gas powered push mowers, trimmers and leaf blowers.
There is nothing more frustrating than futilely pulling on the cord with no result; you can almost hear the grass and weeds growing around you as you tackle a problem that could have been prevented in the fall with some easy maintenance.
Fuel, will destabilize, two stroke fuels for small engines, even more so. Run your machinery dry or use a fuel stabilizer, following the product's directions.
Cleaning, remove debris from your machine with cloths, soft and wire brushes and a hose if need be; tape the spark plug lead up out of the way before cleaning. In the case of push mowers, use a stick or similar implement to clear debris from the blades to avoid injuries.
Servicing, check the spark plug electrodes for wear and replace if necessary. Check the pull cord for wear and again, replace it if you think it is likely to fail; check and replace filters as necessary. You may also consider removing the spark plug, put a product's recommended amount of fogging oil into the cylinder, and pull the cord a couple of times. On push mowers, check the blades and belts and lubricate and grease as per your owner's manual; paint over any chips in the paintwork to prevent rust getting a hold. On trimmers, check the trim cord/blades and replace as needed; on trimmers and leaf blowers, also check the harnesses for wear and adjust them correctly.
If you do not feel comfortable performing some of these jobs yourself, then consider taking your machines to a professional shop for servicing before storing them away in a cool, dry place. What tips and/or experiences can you offer about getting your fall lawn machinery ready for the winter?